Antonia Urrejola Revamps Chile’s Foreign Policy

Chilean Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola

The environment, feminism, and a firm commitment to human rights have thus far marked the beginning of Antonia Urrejola’s term as the new Chilean foreign minister.

By Pierre Lebret (El Mostrador)

HAVANA TIMES – Leaders are important, especially when they’re on the right side of history. In just a few weeks, Chilean Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola and her team have succeeded in restoring the prestige of Chile’s foreign policy. Today, the country has a highly aware foreign minister with a woman’s face, leaving ever further behind the dark hours of these last years, marked by human rights violations, an alliance with ultra-conservative governments and ineffectiveness.

On one hand, the new authority is clear that the country should once again participate in the multilateral agenda. Proof of this is the successful effort she and Environmental Minister Maisa Rojas led to convince Chile’s Congress to approve the Escazu Accord.

On the other hand, the Foreign Minister gives great importance to maintaining a dialogue with all the countries of the region, in order to reach consensus and to find viable and sustainable solutions. This stands in sharp contrast to former president Piñera. Chile now begins a new stage in its regional relations, one that perhaps will be different from all the previous ones. The best example is their recent voice supporting the idea that the upcoming Los Angeles Summit of the Americas should be as broad-based as possible. In effect, neither confrontation nor exclusion have yielded positive results in the past.

The President has declared several times “we’re deeply Latin American.” It’s a phrase that has gained even more meaning today, when the urgent matters have multiplied – issues for which we can and should find common answers. In the current framework of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the region can no longer continue seeing everything beyond the national as a synonym for relinquishment; instead, we must begin to view it as cooperation and solidarity between territories.

In addition, there’s a very valuable sensitivity and connection with civil society on the part of the foreign minister.  In March, during her first interview as foreign minister with a European media outlet, the Minister expressed her intention – be it in Chile or in her trips outside the country – to hold meetings with figures from civil society. Said and done.

That point isn’t just an anecdote, but something fundamental for a better comprehension of foreign policy. It also means incorporating into the State task agenda the importance of conducting teaching and learning exercises with the citizens, on topics such as regional integration for example. In order to have a sustainable integration, civil society must feel part of it and identify with it.

If the people don’t appropriate the integration policies as their own, it’s very difficult to imagine them being defended when there’s a change of government, and a new authority perhaps decides to exit these arrangements. Moving towards greater understanding and participation on the part of civil society is key to assuring the sustainability of the regional integration projects which offer a perspective of emancipation for Latin America and the Caribbean.

A turquoise* foreign policy, feminism, and a firm commitment to human rights are the characteristics that have thus far marked the beginning of Antonia Urrejola’s term as the new Chilean foreign minister. A foreign policy well in tune with the policies announced by President Gabriel Boric, who took office in January. Such consistency is essential to a national agenda and lends more legitimacy to the voice that is being expressed, and will continue to be expressed, in the global arena.

Chile, Latin America and the Caribbean aren’t condemned to continue losing their blood through open veins, with everything that implies. The future of the next generations can’t be confined to climate instability, inequality, and conflict. This new administration shows that diplomacy can be exercised in another way, with a social conscience, to continue opening new paths that favor our peoples.

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*Editor’s note; The “turquoise” foreign policy as expressed in Boric’s government program, seeks to showcase Chile’s commitment to combating the climate crisis on a multidimensional level. It includes the traditional land components of environmental protection, plus protection of the marine ecosystems.

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